I always thought I would have a brown thumb because my mom wasn’t very good at keeping plants alive. Well, lo and behold, I actually have a green thumb. One of my favorite things to do with my husband is to go plant shopping. He goes to nurseries looking for fruit trees and I check out the indoor plants, and we both usually come home with something.
Keeping plants alive isn’t as hard as you think it is. Here are a few tips on how to care for your indoor plants…
1. Water: Overwatering is probably the most common reason a plant doesn’t thrive. They are a few plants that like to have very moist soil, but most of the time, plants do better when you let the soil dry out a bit between waterings. Stick your finger an inch into the soil (closer to the edge of the pot), and if it’s dry, it’s time to water. After doing this a few times, you’ll get to know your plant and have a better idea of what kind of watering schedule it should be on.
I like to gather all my plants in the sink to water them. To water, lift up the leaves and water the soil until you see a little bit of water trickle from the bottom. If you have a saucer to catch the excess water, be sure to dump it after about 30 minutes. It’s not good for plants to be sitting in water. Plants like a shower, but they don’t want to soak in a bath.
2. Drainage: I find it works well when I put a 1/2″ – 1″ layer of pebbles at the bottom of the pot. The pebbles will keep the water away from the roots. Also, for some plants that like a little humidity, if there is a little bit of water in the pebbles, that will help provide that. When repotting (which is probably another post on its own), use a pot with drainage holes. Good drainage is critical to plant health. Pots with no holes will keep all the water in, and more than likely root rot will occur.
3. Light: Always pay attention to the care label of your plant when you first purchase it, or do some research online. You need to know if your indoor plant wants full sun, partial sun, or shade. My fig tree loves the sun, so it’s by a big window to get bright light. Now fig trees also grow towards the sun, so I have to rotate it once in awhile to prevent it from leaning one direction. Typically, most plants like really sunny rooms, but there are a few like the snake plant or ZZ plant that do moderately well in low light environments.
Pay attention to see if the plant is lanky or has paler foliage. This may be an indication that it is not getting enough light. If so, gradually move it to a spot where it can get more light. If a plant has been in a certain spot for a long time, it can go into shock if it’s moved too suddenly, so you want to gradually transition it to a new area.
It’s still winter, and we were gone for two weeks for Christmas, so I can totally tell some of my plants feel a little neglected (some seem lankier and not as green), but I’m hoping they will perk back up with some TLC. Though I do have four kids, so they get my attention first. And of course, with kids around, the occasional torn leaf or broken branch happens too. Or in the case of my cactus, they made indents all over it with their nails because they thought the thickness was interesting (oye!). Anyway, plants add so much beauty to a space, so don’t get intimidated, and start with one. As long as you don’t overwater, you’re pretty much good! –Rubyellen
Credits // Author and Photography: Rubyellen Bratcher. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions.